Madden suit sacks players union

Jury determines pro-footballer organization wasn't acting in members' best interests when licensing game liknesses, awards plaintiffs $28.1 million.

A jury yesterday sided with a group of retired NFL players in a multimillion dollar class-action suit against their own union, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

As reported in September, the former players alleged that the NFL Players Association gave Electronic Arts preferential treatment in negotiations for the licensing rights of retired players. The $200,000-per-year cost of licensing for Hall of Fame players was said to be "millions below market prices," and a key factor in Take-Two Interactive's decision to abandon its competing (and not licensed by the NFL) All-Pro Football franchise.

A group of more than 2,000 retired players will now get to see some of those millions, as the jury awarded the class a $28.1 million judgment after determining the union had violated revenue-sharing agreements with them in licensing video games and other memorabilia. About $7.1 million of the award was issued for compensation, with the remaining $21 million coming in the form of punitive damages for failing to protect the rights of its own members.

According to the paper, a lawyer with the union asked for minimal damages because the full judgment would impact the NFLPA's ability to properly represent players.

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94 comments
bnazty23
bnazty23

Wow, I really cant believe the powers that be really deleted my post, how amazingly inappropriate and untimely was that? The cool thing was that no one gave it a bad rating, lol. Whatever

valdarez
valdarez

I wonder where Brendan got the following information 'and a key factor in Take-Two Interactive's decision to abandon its competing (and not licensed by the NFL) All-Pro Football franchise.'. It was my understanding that the players were locked up for multi-year contracts, meaning that was in no way a key factor Take Two's decision to not produce an APF2K9 (which was in development until earlier in the year when the plug was pulled).

burback2
burback2

This has nothing to do with being greedy. Its about getting whats rightfully owed to you. The NFLPA even went out of there way to tell EA to blur out retired players photos. Obviously somebody didn't want to fork over the moolah. It only works out to about 14k per player but still better than nothing. Heck thats more than Joe DeLamielleure's yearly pension and the guy is in the HOF and played over 10 seasons. Thats a shame. NHL players get better pensions than that for crying out loud. The NFLPA is a joke and the retired plays got what they deserved. Its not enough. But hey, its real money

maverick_76
maverick_76

I think people forget that most of these players that played in the 60's, 70's and 80's did not have the mega contracts that star players today have. Back then a "mega" contract was for maybe $1 million a year, and that was usually for the top ten players in the league. Average salary was around $100,000- $200,000/year and that is still a lot, but when your career choice on average lasts about five years, well you do the math. Trust me, these guys needed that money with medical and mental expenses that come with playing in the NFL. That is why lots of players move to television, radio or other celebrity type jobs to generate more income, do y'all really think they wouldn't rather just chill on a couch in their underwear every Sunday?

RoC1909
RoC1909

@Molezzi That's right, just because MOLEZZI doesn't like our 'football' means it lame. Soccer, now THAT is a boring sport. A couple of guys kicking a ball around with really no action whatsoever outside of the few goals that are made. And then the fans get to be treated to a 'ringside seat' when a bunch of 'said fans' start to hurt, maim and kill others as well as burn the stadium down. What a bunch of tards!! Yup, great sport!!

RoC1909
RoC1909

Absolutely Cobra5! Gamers like to live out their fantasies by playing a game as their favorite player of yesteryear. I would be embarrassed if I was one of those that sued! Just to have your LIKENESS in a game cost millions. Hopefully EA tells them to 'F off' and make the players with different names like they did with Barry Bonds. SAY HELLO TO YOUR NEW PLAYERS: Noe Jamoth, Mo Fontana, Schlemmit Spliff

necronaux
necronaux

And the sad thing is... it's all OUR money. This just means that prices on the next versions of the games, DLC, tickets for games, etc. are all going up in price. We'll get less quality / quantity too.

Cobra5
Cobra5

A bunch of people who had a lot of money who don't need it, are getting sued by a bunch of people who have a lot of money and don't need it. Yay?

Molezzi
Molezzi

DOES ANYBODY OUTSIDE THE U.S.A, ACTUALLY BUY MADDEN?? I doubt it... Cos its SOOO boring and lame. (what a idiotic sport) Give me Football (soccer) anyday!!! Fifa 09!!

Henninger
Henninger

It is not greed on the part of the retired players. Its greed on the NFLPA. How r u not gonna pay the people their money 4 using their likeness? Im glad they had 2 pay that money. Stop being greedy & shady & things like this won't happen.

phase4illini
phase4illini

Metaljeff, I think Take Two really gets a mention here because in reality, exclusivity with the NFL (should have and) will cost EA a great deal more money in the future, opening the door for a little competition from Take Two in the future.

geist9049
geist9049

wow, greed wins yet again...

bnazty23
bnazty23

@ AUTO: Holy s--t that is crazy about your friend! They made him pay for the hole in his shirt that a bullet went through!! That is one of the craziest things I have ever heard. I would have to say that the soldiers for this country definitely put their lives on the line each and every day and yes they get paid next to nothing for it. It really is a shame when you think about soldier, teachers, and firefighters get paid diddly squat compared to a professional athlete whom works about eight months a year PLAYING a GAME.

metaljeff
metaljeff

I'm not understanding why Take2 is mentioned here.....They paid each player individually.Their decision to not release AP2k9 came well before this ruling, and was a result of MANY factors....Low sales of AP2k8, along with VC taking over baseball and hockey from KUSH...Am I wrong here?

codeman5533
codeman5533

good game needs fine tuning theres always next year as they say ps online isnt the best

grand17
grand17

lol ok mark632, maybe your right. maybe criterion is owned by ea. but im not poor so i dont need to sell my games. i do have madden 07 in my collection too. i probably wouldnt buy another burnout anyway. i dont need duplicates of repackaged games. i like to try different games and imo ea games are just to similar from one year to the next.

mark632
mark632

grand17 "...you see your wrong because criterion made burnout paradise and criterion made the free dlc. ea just published it. whereas ea sports makes those crappy games you like..." Surely, you are kidding. EA bought Criterion years ago. Criterion is just a brand name for EA developed games, no different than the EA Sports brand. So if you really believe all the ridiculous tripe you've been spewing around here, I suggest you get rid of Burnout Paradise and never buy another Burnout game again.

Autolycus
Autolycus

phase4illini I agree with that the NFLPA is as much to blame if not more, for not protecting its retired players. Just image what the NFL would be in a moneyless society... People would actually try instead of falling over so easily.

cajunstrike
cajunstrike

Agreed. Verdict is quite justified. One can only hope that at some point some of the older retirees can receive adequate compensation for medical expenses from the league and players association.

phase4illini
phase4illini

Autolycus, I'll agree with you to a point. The older retired players that "made the game what it is today" on the very limited salaries pre-free agency deserve all the compensation they can achieve. The players in the today, since the emergeance of the free agent market, still make the game what it is, and many do so being grossly overpaid for it. Granted the NFL makes millions, but in the end it is still a game and a career "choice." I didn't join the military thinking that I couldn't be injured in combat, just as these athletes don't pursue a life in the NFL thinking that they might not be irreparably damaged. And again, outside of retired player benefits, nowhere in our laws and government does it say that an individual has the right to retire comfortably for life after 5-10 years of playing a pro sport, and therefore the argument that players need to make enough to support themselves for the rest of their lives off of only several years of play, to them I have to say tough cookies. So, as odd as it may seem, I think that any measure of sympathy needs to be limited to the support players (the ones who will never make the big bucks) and the older vets, especially considering the rash of bankrupt post-free agency top-paid players out there who were incapable of not wasting every dime they earned. And before you blame the NFL completely for all the medical coverage woes of older retired players, you also have to hold the NFLPA fully accountable for allowing poor medical coverage to stand. Hurricane Ditka and his calvacade of retired veterans are having to fight both the NFL and the NFLPA. Both the NFL and the NFLPA are culpable, but at the same time, you have to hold newer retired players accountable as well, because a lot of them had the means (and the warning signs from older veterans) to adequately prepare for a possibly and probably handicapped future.

Autolycus
Autolycus

Besides quaterbacks and well known players, the rest of people don't make that much money. And your right our solders do give up a lot, but they aren't getting tackled left and right for living either. In the unfortunate circumstance that they do get hurt in battle, they still get charged. My friend went to Iraq, got shot in Iraq and got charged for the blood stains on the uniform, the whole in the uniform and the price of the bullet. But guess what American's are doing about it... you guessed it...NOTHING... like always. The expect everything but do nothing...

KSigMTSU
KSigMTSU

Glad the court did the right thing here. Gene Upshaw was not protecting the rights of the retired players like he was supposed to, there is a good reason people like Jim Brown were bumping heads with him on issues like this. I don't really think that 28.1 million is really a giant knock to the bottom line, and if they did it correctly they could negociate dropping it into a retired players fund as a charitiable orginization and divy the money out that way to take it as a tax write off. Too bad they didn't see this coming and go ahead and do that in the first place and avoid the court to ease the transition.

StJimmy15
StJimmy15

@autolycus "they give up their heath..." ya, so does our military, but they get paid s#!t. so why do these guys get paid millions to throw a ball around and hurt each other? exactly. maybe they should cry a little more and use some other their benjamins to dry their tears.

Autolycus
Autolycus

and also, for those you that don't know. the NFL will ONLY work with DIRECT TV for sunday ticket. Direct TV isn't the evil doer. Just like EA isn't the evil doer. The NFL rules over EVERYTHING it does.

Autolycus
Autolycus

for those who didnt read the article, its 28.1 mill with 7.1 mill going to the lawers which leaves 21million divided by 2000 players. Each player gets 10,500 - taxes (say 28%, 2940 dollars) = 7560 per player. But the point isn't how much they can make its how much they can take for the NFL. Since money is the only way to teach business's a lesson.

Autolycus
Autolycus

lilmp89, i completely disagree. These professional football players give up their future health to make the NFL the NFL. True they make a nice chunk of change to go with it, but the simple fact is, without people like Walter Payton, Jerry Rice, Joe Montana, Howie Long, etc etc etc, the NFL wouldnt be the NFL. The NFL Makes MILLIONS of dollars off of the history of its sport and the names that go with it. What you are talking about is the whole reason the U.S. Economy is in the dumps. The NFL didn't make these people. These people made the NFL. Just like work. These employees are working for the company, the company is a live because of its employees. If more employeers (including the NLF) understood that you have to spend money (on employees) to make money, a lot our problems would be solved. For proof, look @ Google and how they are run. Paid well, massive vacation, luxury restraunts inside, paid nap time, etc. *yes real nap time is acceptable*. Its when these corporations (including the NFL) starting to think they were in control of the employees (or players) that all the problems starting happening. And in case you've been sleeping under a rock, the NFL is horrible at medical coverage for retired players who have millions of dollars worth of medical bills because of the NFL.

lilmp89
lilmp89

Honestly, though I'm not sure of technically, I believe public icons, be it sports, movies, tv, or other media must accept themselves as public figures. Once you decide to become 'famous' or be on the bench of a professional league, they should have to give up rights of their likeness in other entertainment media unless the purpose is endorsement. If a player of any sport is used in a game that simulates that sport, they should be in it, otherwise, it's not a simulation. However, having someone stand in a sign in that game for another product (in-game advertising), then a payment for use of their likeness is necessary. I hope you understand what I am trying to say rather than go on technicalities in my word usage.

ZedX-14Pilot
ZedX-14Pilot

That means that there is only about $14,050.00 for each player, and they will lose probably more than half of that to taxes and legal fees, which means they went through all that trouble for about 5 to 6 grand a piece I am guessing. Lame... With all the money these guys make from playing, why waste time suing for such a ridiculous, small amount of money. The guys at EA sold approx. 4.5 million copies for roughly 270 million each year the past 3 years or so, so I REALLY wonder, what does each player in the game get as compensation for their likeness in the game?

bnazty23
bnazty23

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

metaljeff
metaljeff

Madden sucks, unless you are hooked on ritalin

ParisSun
ParisSun

The way the games will get around increasing cost with these old players will be just to cut them from the games all together and use current rosters only. But they should have received fair market value in the first place. Also 28.1 million is not much once you divide that up in legal fees, taxes and checks to players.

phase4illini
phase4illini

It's likely that the NFLPA will have to try and renegotiate it's deal with EA in order to cover the increased costs of future licensing in the Madden series. Bad on the NFLPA for trying to undercut the retired players in the first place. Hopefully this will remove exclusivity. Don't get me wrong, I've become a fan of EA in recent months, as they've begun pushing for quality over quantity, but competition from Take Two is probably one of the best things that could happen for gamers, as it forces EA to make real changes and improvements.

Liquidsword
Liquidsword

"Wtf ~ b/c football players just need even more money...." Actually alot of these retired players were around before free agency, when NFL players didn't make squat compared to those of today.

tonicmole
tonicmole

This actually has no effect on EA that I no of. The money is to be paid by the players Union, and will not effect any of EA's licensing deals. In the future it may inhibit exclusive use of retired players, but that's about it. When it comes to whether EA is evil or not it's pretty simple. Any company of this size is evil. Nintendo forces shortages to build hype on an inferior product, Sony uses pre-rendered video to make the PS 3 look more powerful, and Microsoft continue's to sell defective consoles. The gaming industry is by far one of the most evil business' I've ever seen. Where there are billions of dollars, there are bloody hands.

CamiKitten
CamiKitten

Wtf ~ b/c football players just need even more money....

LosDaddie
LosDaddie

Oh well....I still love EA games! :D

Chronikas
Chronikas

@ sdkingsht: go easy on the kid will ya? There are plenty of reasons to criticize EA, that doesn't mean he has to boycott them completely. I tried to boycott EA years ago when the NFL exclusivity first started. Anyone remember? ESPN NFL 2k5 was a better game, selling for $20 to Madden's $50! EA had failed to improve the franchise in 3-4 years, they got scared that someone was going to eat up their market share, so they bought exclusive rights to save their cowardly a$$es. That was disgusting behavior to me so I did my best (and was succesful for a while) to avoid purchasing an EA game. But in today's marketplace, EA is so damn sprawling its tough not to buy at least a couple of their titles without depriving yourself of content. (I'll be d@mned if I'm going to skip Mass Effect for some silly ideals.) EA makes their fair share of decent games, and their fair share of crap games. The bottom line is, their business practices are continually amoral (the exclusivity deal, the DRM drama, and now this.) So hating EA is not some new cool thing to do, they have had it coming for a while. And I hardly think you should poke fun at anyone for being a fanboy considering the fact that every single game on your list is a sony playstation title.

blancobo
blancobo

Another one of those cases where a back door was found. That is why the old schoolers still have an edge in the legal system. A lot of this cases cover the updated/actual laborers while the old school guys, those who worked for much less dough are so taken for granted. This could be a hit... but I think EA may have had it coming to them. No worries, I doubt this money can significantly impact of the parts involved.

BulletsnOctane
BulletsnOctane

These men helped shape American football into what it is today. Good for the former players involved. Good for the NFLPA.

delcidanddarth
delcidanddarth

Isn't Madden a retired football player? And of course EA is partially at fault for this. Doubters can't seriously think that EA had nothing to do with how low the licensing rights were. There's only 2 possible conclusions... either EA believed that the $200k negotiated price was something they would get away with, or EA was dumb enough to think that was a fair price. Here's a word of advice... if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Nichols1984
Nichols1984

Why Don't EA Just Say FU Most People Aren't Gonna Buy This Cause It's Just Madden With A Bunch Of Retired Players Is It Really Worth Another 60.00 Dollars Just Include Them In Madden And Stop Hassling Us

Noutyboi
Noutyboi

effing money-hungry idiots, they should be thankful that they're respected enough to be in the games in the first place. Now they should be paid millions so that kids can learn more about football and see the star players that were playing before their times? FU man. Let's not include them in the next few games at all... they'll come crawling back :P

INMATEofARKHAM
INMATEofARKHAM

Good, I'm glad to see that the NFL PA got what they deserved... and while I personally don't think EA is at fault in any of this (why would they pay more when offered a sweetheart deal?) I hope it brings us a step closer to where exclusive rights to sport games (NFL, MLB, AFL, whatever) go away forever...

grand17
grand17

sdkingsht "lmfao @grand17...you bought Burnout Paradise and even rated it a 9.0 "Superb." didn't you notice that same big circle on the cover you pointed out on Madden? the one with EA in it...damn i love it when someone opens their mouth and then proves me right. Checkmate kid" you see your wrong because criterion made burnout paradise and criterion made the free dlc. ea just published it. whereas ea sports makes those crappy games you like...

darkone321
darkone321

Hmmm.... Wow... Exclusive "deals" are almost always a bad idea, in more ways then one. This will most likely be appealed. The NFL License should be available to any developer/publisher who can afford it. Competition is a good thing. I played Madden 09, I would have liked a NFL licensed alternative.